Fridays with Franklin: The Zitron Art Deco Challenge Part Three, Square Dance

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

To see the first part of this Zitron Art Deco challenge, click here.

I’ve been looking forward to this part of the challenge. Weaving with self-patterning yarns is always a total gas. You can do the simplest possible weave and still get effects that make your heart flutter.

June has been, as usual, an on-the-go month with more time spent away, teaching, than at home. That means all projects must be portable. The smallest loom I own is this one.

zoomloom
It’s a Schacht Zoom Loom, John Mullarkey’s updated take on the venerable handheld pin loom. Pin looms of various sizes have been around for ages; the Zoom Loom is distinguished by being particularly light, tough, and comfortable to use. Most pin looms give me a cramp in the hand after a square or two. This one doesn’t.

Pin loom weaving is simple, an excellent point-of-entry for the newbie; but the end product is handsome enough to make it a useful tool for any weaver.

You warp in three stages…

stage01
One.
stage02
Two.
stage03
Three.

…wrapping the yarn around the pins, right off the ball.

Then, with the included long weaving needle, you weave.

stage04
Weaving can be plain or patterned. Given that Zitron Art Deco is already patterned, I chose to keep the weaving plain.

finished-squares

Now, one challenge presented by a pin loom is that you cannot adjust the spacing of the pins, which means you cannot change the sett (the number of yarns per inch) of your finished fabric. Art Deco is a bit slim for the sett of the Zoom Loom, and right off the loom what you get is fabric that’s very open and a bit unstable. The weaving term for this is “sleazy.”

backlit

Well, okay. This is a challenge, after all–and that means experimentation. If you’re not a weaver (yet), the finishing process for handwovens may startle you. Handknitting and crochet are most often blocked gently, with the wet fabric shaped carefully hand or stretched gradually on cords, pins, or wires. Woven fabric, however, is often soaked and then pummeled mercilessly either by hand or by machine.

A naughty voice inside my head said,

bunny-wash
and so I did, which gave me this pile of soggy squares.

soggy-squares
Then the voice said,

bunny-dry

and I did. I put them through a full cycle in a HOT dryer. A brazen violation of the washing instructions on the label. Did I feel guilty about this?

bunny-no
What I got were squares that were wrinkled, yes, but also pleasantly firm. (A quick press with a warm iron got rid of the wrinkles.)

post-wash
I decided to firm them up a tad more with quick edgings of single crochet, using a Size 2.75mm hook, working all stitches under the first thread in from the selvedge.

edged-squares
Then I started joining them with more crochet. Little bitty flowers.

flowerjoin
I had no plan here. I think I was high on the fumes from the dryer. Because after a considerable amount of time I had made this…

grossthing
????

…which, frankly, is one of the ugliest things I have ever made. What’s the superlative form of ugly? Fuglissimo? What the hell is this, anyway? Is it a garment? I wouldn’t wear it. I wouldn’t let you wear it. I wouldn’t polish my boots with it.

There’s just too much going on. You got the lumpy little flowers, some of which (again, I blame the dryer fumes) are backwards. You got the chain stitch diamond at the center, where I didn’t know what else to do. Plus you got all the color going this way and that.

No. Horrid. Do over.

I rearranged the squares

traingle-layout
and joined them with simple slip-stitch crochet, using a size 3.25mm hook. That meant the slip stitches were just a little too small to allow the squares to lie flat, creating a gathered fabric.

gathered
Then I put the whole piece through the wash-and-dry process again, just to be a little dickens.

finished-02
finished-side

finished-front
Now I think we have…well, not something. But at least the start of something.

In two weeks, I’ll wrap up my part of the Zitron Art Deco challenge with a look at the knitting, crochet, and weaving stages; and I’ll introduce Stage Four– a challenge for you.  With prizes, of course.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Art Deco (80% Virgin Wool, 20% Nylon; 437 yards per 100 gram ball). Shown in Colors 01, 03, and 05.

addi® Colours Crochet Hook Set

Schacht Zoom Loom

Bohin Embroidery Scissors (shown in red)

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat. He will lead his own knitting cruise to Bermuda in September, 2018.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

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Fridays with Franklin: The Zitron Art Deco Challenge Part Two, Poppin’ Wheelies

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

To see the first part of this Zitron Art Deco challenge, click here.

This week, we’re back to crochet. I love having multiple forms of craft in play all at once. I find that I get more finished when I do. It’s refreshing to set aside knitting and play with crochet; or do a bit of weaving and then change over to embroidery.

A change, as my grandmother often reminded me when I had finished washing the woodwork and was set about weeding the garden, is as good as a rest.

Ye Ollde Crochette

Once again, my current challenge is to take Zitron Art Deco (a USA exclusive to Makers’ Mercantile, shown here in Color 03)…

zitronartdecoyarncolor05
Zitron Art Deco, Color 03

…and work it so that the planned self-patterning is all mixed up; but gives a result that’s pleasing.

I am still miles away from knowing enough about crochet to design anything interesting. So I turned to my shelf of antique and vintage patterns in search of something fun.

In the twenty-eighth series of Weldon’s Practical Crochet, published in London in the last quarter of the nineteenth century (pinning down more exact dates for individual issues of Weldon’s Practical Needlework is tricky), I found this tantalizing little number.

photogravure
Mmmmmmyeeeeeaaaahhhhbaybeeeee

This was intended to be worked in white Number 10 or Number 12 cotton as an antimacassar–a decorative but practical cover for the back of chair, meant to protect the upholstery from the macassar oil used by men to dress their hair.

I wanted to see it with Zitron Art Deco–a heavier gauge, and splashed with color. While I was waiting for the Art Deco to arrive in the mail, I grabbed some of the Schoppel-Wolle Edition 6 left over from the Five Hour Baby Jacket embroidery and had a go.

test-wheel-edition6-yarn
Test wheel in Schoppel-Wolle Edition 6

This was enough to get me excited. I worked it straight from the original pattern, albeit with the usual pause to check the differences between British and American crochet terms. Of course, I paused only after I had already done it wrong. I always guess, and guess incorrectly, when I can’t recall whether British single crochet is bigger or smaller than American single crochet.

Here, translated into modern American crochet language, is the pattern.

Antimacassar Worked in Wheels
originally published in Weldons’ Practical Crochet, Twenty-Eighth Series (1880s)

Note on gauge: with the Zitron Art Deco yarn used in the sample and an addi® Colours crochet hook size US B (2.5mm), the author created large motifs measuring about 3.5 inches in diameter.

Beginning. Chain 8, join into a ring.

Round 1. Work 16 single crochet into ring.

Round 2. Chain 7 (counts as first treble crochet and chain 2). *Treble crochet under both threads of next single crochet, chain 2. Repeat from * until you have 16 treble crochet (including beginning chain). Join final chain 2 to fifth stitch in beginning chain.

Round 3. Work 3 single crochet into each chain 2 space of previous round. (Total of 48 single crochet.) Join to close round.

Round 4. Chain 7 (counts as first double treble crochet). Work 3 double treble crochet under both threads of next three single crochet, chain 5. **Work 4 double treble crochet into next 4 single crochet, chain 5. Repeat from ** until you have 12 groups of 4 double treble, all separated by chain 5. Join to close round.

Round 5. Work 1 single crochet between the second and third double trebles of the first group of the previous round. Work 8 single crochet around the following chain 5. Continue in this way, working 1 single crochet between the second and third stitches of each group of 4, and 8 single crochet around each chain 5.

Subsequent wheels are joined in the fifth round by uniting*** fourth and firth single crochet stitches of two successive outer loops to the corresponding stitches of previous wheels (see illustrations).

The space between a group of four wheels is filled with a small circle (the original pattern charmingly calls it a “circlet”) formed by working the wheel motif through Round 3. In working Round 3, unite*** the center stitch of every fourth space to the outer loop of an adjacent wheel.

***I used a flat join for these.

Wheels on Fire

Turns out the dang wheels are addictive – and easy to memorize. After wheeling twice, in the privacy of my own home…

two-wheels
…I took to wheeling in public. Without a pattern. Without caring who saw me. I HAD NO SHAME. I HAD TO MAKE MORE WHEELS.

four-wheels

When I eventually regained full control over my faculties, I found I had a little garland of wheels.

wheels-unblocked-strip

I liked it very much. It made me smile. It made me giggle. It made want to flip up my kilt and run barefoot through a meadow.

The garland was a little wrinkly, so I soaked and blocked it. No pins. Just soaked in clean water, patted into shape, and laid flat to dry.

blocked-artdeco-garland
Then I liked it even more.

blocked-garland-closeup
The way the self-patterning colors break up, the individual wheels look a little odd and unbalanced–but connected as a large piece, they look vibrant. And the motifs are bold enough to stand out in through the color changes.

fwf-68-newsletter-photo
I want to keep adding to the garland until it becomes a scarf or a shawl. I know I will, since I am unable to stop making these wheels and they all have to go somewhere. In the meantime, with the work at about 17 inches long, Little Girl Upstairs (Rosamund’s dear friend, and big sister to Upstairs Baby) was kind enough to model it for me.

zitron-artdeco-wheels-finished
She told me she expects to get it when it’s finished.

Update on the Part One of the  Zitron Art Deco Challenge: Knitting

The knitting part of the challenge is complete. I made the short-rowed cowl in Color 01 about as high as I figured it ought to be and bound off. Decent little thing. Cute fabric, good drape. Amusing to knit.

unblocked-cowl-dressform
As I’ve said before, my customary practice with all knitting is to wet finish. It smooths out the stitches, cleans the fabric, and lends a more professional appearance.

This cowl is an object lesson in the benefits of wet blocking. I soaked it for a couple hours in plain, tepid water; then removed it from the water, rolled it up in old towels, and jumped up and down on it until it was still damp, but not sopping.

Then I laid it flat to dry. Look what happened.

unblocked-cowl-dressform
Before Blocking
blocked-nolablel-dressform
After Blocking

Not only is it (much) larger, with better drape; but the fabric itself is handsomer. The short-row lozenges have opened up beautifully as the stitches relaxed.

cowl-fabric-blocked
And all that comes from about half a ball. Yes, that will do.

blocked-knit-artdeco-dressform

We’re going to make the complete pattern for this available as a free Makers’ Mercantile download. Watch this space.

Coming Up Next…

For the third part of the Zitron Art Deco challenge, I’ll be weaving this…

zitronartdecoyarncolor02
Get over here, you cute little thing, you.

…on a Schacht Zoom Loom. Self-patterning yarns usually do crazy cool stuff when you weave with them. I expect shenanigans of the very best kind.

New in the Shop

Makers’ Mercantile was so pleased with the demand for my “Yarn Sheep” leggings that they asked me to do another yarn-themed design for them. The result is “Endless Yarn”–cats and balls entangled forever. Available in sizes XS to 6XL–full details are here.

cats-and-yarn-inked
“Endless Yarn,” a new design for leggings for Makers’ Mercantile.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Zitron Art Deco (80% Virgin Wool, 20% Nylon; 437 yards per 100 gram ball). Shown in Colors 01, 02, and 03.

addi® Colours Crochet Hook Set

Schacht Zoom Loom

“Endless Yarn” Leggings designed by Franklin Habit

“Yarn Sheep” Leggings designed by Franklin Habit

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat. He will lead his own knitting cruise to Bermuda in September, 2018.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

Fridays with Franklin: Wear the Bee Socks

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

This column most often shows you the progress of one project at a time, which I’ve realized gives you a false impression of how I work.

I’ve been cleaning out my primary workspace for eight years, which is the same amount of time I’ve spent working in my primary workspace.

It’s not a complete mess, mind you. If it were a complete mess, it would be complete. Nothing in here is complete.

I have a sort of area devoted to “Fridays with Franklin” works in progress. It grows and shrinks and changes its shape and moves hither and thither, like a restless volcanic island made from yarn.

At any given moment there will be three things in progress, supplies for a couple more ideas, supplies from Makers’ Mercantile for which no idea has yet presented itself, and leftover bits of finished projects that haven’t been sorted into storage.

Right now the top of the island is covered by a large (well, large for me) crochet project using HiKoo Concentric, an intriguing alpaca gradient yarn that arrived attractively packaged in a plump bun.

fwf-63-hikoo-concentric
Two luscious buns of HiKoo Concentric from Skacel.

Two these buns have become little bundles of granny squares, and the granny squares need assembly into the final thing.

gathered-squares

But that means hauling around all the granny squares, and I’ve been on the move. That means the first over the finish line will be this pair of socks made with old favorite Zitron Trekking XXL Sport Sock Yarn, shown here in progress on my first set of addi Flexi Flips.

IMG_20180314_064940_259
(I love the FlexiFlips, by the way. My preferred tools for sock knitting have been double-points or two circulars, and these are a sort of hybrid of the two methods. You get a set of three, and two hold the work while you knit with the third. They took a little getting used to, but after about ten rounds, I found myself working faster than usual with hands that were relaxed and comfortable.)

These socks are for me. I don’t have much time to knit for myself, so I choose personal projects with care. Things I need go to the top of the waiting list.

I need these socks, because the only reliable source of reasonably-priced, durable store-bought socks that I’ve counted on for years recently slashed its line to remove all the colors I wanted to wear. No more bright yellows, reds, or purples. No more vivid greens. No pinks, no lavenders, no royal or robin’s egg blues. They still love to trumpet that they offer dozens and dozens of choices; but now all of those choices are either browns, tans, greys, black, or navy. Whee!

I also need these socks because I want socks with a fun motif on them. You can buy men’s socks with motifs, but these are almost always selected from the acceptable list of Things Men Can Have On Their Clothes.

Here’s the classic list:

1. Stuff You Hunt (Deer, Duck, Moose, etc.)
2. Horses
3. Card Suits (Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade)
4. Cars
5. Golf
6. Sailing
7. Naked Ladies

The only lasting additions in the past eighty or so years are “fun” science motifs (e.g., robots, spaceships, atoms) and superhero logos.

Here are things I don’t want on my socks:

1. Stuff You Hunt (Deer, Duck, Moose, etc.)
2. Horses
3. Card Suits (Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade)
4. Cars
5. Golf
6. Sailing
7. Naked Ladies
8. Science
9. Superheroes

I am in no way knocking you if you want these things on your socks. But you are well provided for, and can if you so desire buy what you like right off any number of shelves.

Me, I want colorful wool socks decorated with things men aren’t supposed to like, such as this curly-swirly lyre, taken from a nineteenth-century needlework booklet.

urn-chart
It’s a symbol of the god Apollo, sure; but Apollo doesn’t count as a superhero as he hasn’t got his own best-selling comic book and movie franchise. Apollo wrote poetry and cavorted with muses, both activities the modern American male is supposed to avoid.

Clocked

The socks I want have clocks. A “clock,” in hosiery, is a decoration at the ankle, possibly spreading up the leg a bit. The plural is either “clocks,” which makes sense, or “clox.” I hate the second spelling.

sock-sketch
I could knit the clock into the sock as a piece of intarsia. I have quite a few vintage knitting books with patterns for intarsia clocks,

vintage-montage

But I bristle at the thought of working a sock with a dozen strands of yarn coming off it. I’m sorry, no.

So I thought, why not try to make this happen with duplicate stitch? I’m an old hand at duplicate stitch–last seen in this column on the chest of Rosamund’s Wonder Woofin’ sweater.*

fwf-54-eaglefinished
Duplicate stitch embroidery mimics the structure of the knitting underneath, and if it’s done well it appears to be an integral part of the fabric. It preserves, as well as any embroidery can, the stretch of knitting. It might be just the thing.

If you’re not familiar with the technique, there’s a pretty thorough illustrated write-up of as part of the series on the Wonder Woofin’ sweater. (Bonus: adorable dog pictures.)

The Best Laid Plans

Again, I’ve done plenty of duplicate stitch–but I had never done it on a sock. More to the point, I had never done it at the gauge of this sock–nine stitches to the inch.

It’s my usual practice when embroidering a closed piece of work (like a hat or glove) to insert something, usually a piece of stiff cardboard, inside the work so that I don’t have to worry about accidentally stitching through the wrong part of the fabric. In this case, I have a solid wood sock blocker that did the trick. The fabric wasn’t stretched drum tight–just enough to make it lie nice and flat.

Here we are once again, embroidering our work from a chart, so what do we need? We need guides. I put mine in, using plain white sewing thread, doubled. I put in a baseline, and lines for the horizontal and vertical centers of the motif.

first-guides
Note: To make finding the center stitch a snap, before dividing the stitches to work the heel flap, I put a stitch marker halfway across the stitches at the back of the leg (seen here), and halfway across the stitches at the front of the leg.

For the motif, I first thought I’d use Color 1496. However, paired with Color 1027, it was too close to read well–another cool color, adjacent in the spectrum, almost identical in value. The embroidery would barely have shown up from a couple feet away.

purple-and-blue
Enter Color 1476, an emphatically yellow yellow. (One of the things I love about Zitron Trekking XXL Sport Sock is the enormous range of solid colors.)

purple-and-yellow
Much better.

Then there was nothing more to do than slip a strand into a tapestry needle and get down to it.

Lyre

It did not go well.

It took me two hours to get about five rows up the lyre chart. They were two unpleasant hours, full of language unsuitable for mixed audiences.

After a walk around the block that included a stop at a bar on the far corner, I took a fresh look at the thing and found it to be lopsided, full of stitches not quite of the correct size, and containing one error so fatal that further progress was impossible.

I ripped it all out. Which took another hour.

ripped-lyre
Kaboom!

Lyre, Lyre

I tried twice more. I ripped out twice more. I threw things.

Hive Mind

I decided I didn’t really like the lyre, anyway. What I really wanted on my sock was a bee. This bee, from an Edwardian filet crochet chart. I’ve been wanting to put this bee into or onto a project of some kind for years.

bee-chart
Bees are a favorite symbol of mine. So industrious. Famously busy. Elegantly designed.

Twice more, I started.

bad-bee-progress

Twice more, I ripped.

Just as I was about to give up and admit to you my utter failure, I realized what was tripping me up. I was doing everything I could to ensure success: working while alert, working without distractions, working under the best possible lighting conditions.

And yet, time and again, my it wasn’t working. I mean, look at this.

bee-annotated

The problem? I couldn’t always see–even under brilliant lighting–which row of stitches was which. So I’d suddenly jump up or down a row, or take a stitch that was two rounds high instead of one.

I needed more guidelines.

So I ripped myself back to a blank slate, and I put in lots and lots of guidelines.

The center, of course, yes. But also a guideline for every row in the chart.

guidelines-in-place
That may look like a lot to do, but we’re talking about a motif 19 rows high. Putting those guidelines in took about ten minutes.

And with them in place…

bee-progress

…the embroidery took about an hour.  And it was fun. The guidelines saved me at least a dozen times from making a big mistake, and at least five times showed me that I’d made a mistake immediately, which allowed me to correct it without fuss.

bee-on-lines

The guidelines slid right out.

removing-guides

And I had my bee sock.

finished-bee
I’m pleased to report that the embroidery is perfectly comfortable and stretchy–no lumps or bumps, and it flexes along with the knitting.

sock-on-foot
The bee looks lonely, though, so I think I’ll add a second on the other side. And of course, two more on the other sock. Or maybe three.

Oh. The second sock. I need to knit the second sock.

Maybe after I finish the big crochet project. See you in two weeks!

*I know. Superhero. But she’s the only one I like.

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

HiKoo Concentric (100% Baby Alpaca; 437 yards per 200 gram cake). Shown in Color 1027 (Trixie).

Zitron Trekking XXL Sport Sock Yarn (75% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon. 459 yards per 100 gram skein.) Shown in Color 1407 (sock), 1476 (bee), 1496 (blue).

addi FlexiFlips flexible knitting needles (length 8 inches, shown in size US 0)

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.